Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones talks about the success of the Las Vegas studio
Last year, Blue Wire Podcasts teamed up with Wynn Resorts and WynnBet for a far-reaching partnership, including a Blue Wire studio at Wynn Las Vegas. This studio has since become very convenient for the company on several fronts; they now have seven current podcasts recorded regularly from there they’ve had Las Vegas Raiders players Maxx Crosby and Darren Waller come in to record content for the podcast series that’s slated to debut this summer, and they’ve concluded partnerships with advertisers who combine advertisements on their podcasts with display advertising in the studio.
One of the most notable partnerships was with Coors Light during the NFL Draft in April. With the draft in Vegas, the brand signed a partnership that included sponsorship of 20 Blue Wire NFL podcasts, as well as billboards in Blue Wire’s studio. This studio was a key location for them during the draft, with Chris Long in particular (seen center above) recording his “green lightlive podcast from there and featuring NFL guests including No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchison and former Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman. Blue Wire Founder and CEO Kevin Jones spoke to AA via email this week about how this studio has been operating for less than a year, and said having this space during the draft was huge for them. .
“It was a game-changer for us,” Jones said. “Aidan Hutchison stopped 45 minutes after being drafted. Julian Edelman stayed almost an hour. Arik Armstead, Charles Tillman and Will Blackmon [who hosts a podcast for Blue Wire] were there for the livestream. Outside of ESPN and NFL Network, we felt like Blue Wire had some of the best coverage of the NFL Draft, and we couldn’t have done it without the studio.
The NFL Draft obviously won’t be held in Vegas every year, but the city hosts quite a few regular sporting events. This includes regular fan traffic during March Madness, with the Raiders playing there now, the next F1 race, the annual NBA Summer League, and rumors that NBA or MLB teams will one day move there. Jones said Vegas was the perfect studio location for a burgeoning sports media entity like Blue Wire.
“We can stand out in Las Vegas. All of our biggest competitors have space in New York and Los Angeles. Vegas is increasingly becoming a central geography in the sports world for major events.
Jones said the studio space (oversaw day-to-day by Jordan Harris, the general manager of Blue Wire’s partnership with Wynn) has proven useful on many levels, from the ease of recording there for the talents of Blue Wire to the possibility of having distinguished guests. stop.
“We have producers who make life easier for podcasters on the ground in Las Vegas. Recording from home all the time can get a bit hectic. Plus, you never know who’s going to be in the studio: athletes and celebrities drop by regularly and come as guests.
And Jones said the ability to offer display ads there (seen by both people passing by the Wynn and those watching the video feeds of those podcasts), as well as even product placement on the video feeds ( as seen in the Coors Light on the table in the top image), has many advantages for advertisers over an audio-only podcast ad setup. He believes this helps differentiate Blue Wire’s advertising opportunities from those offered by their competitors.
“We want to be leaders in what we call ‘Audio Plus,’ where podcast ad plays are the meat of a package for Coors Light, but they also get elements of social, in-person, and even personalized segments. inside the podcast Ad plays are undoubtedly Blue Wire’s core business, but we are innovating with advertisers like Coors Light who understand that content and audience can go beyond just the podcast .
He said the ability to sell studio advertising also helps bolster their plans to buy out specific studios around key sporting moments. They currently have some planned for the NBA Summer League, the English Premier League kick-off in August, and several NFL events, and more may follow. Jones said a central physical location and physical signage are a big help in pitching advertisers to the idea of sponsoring a takeover.
“We create sales presentations and fact sheets and reach out to advertisers we have a good relationship with to let them know what’s coming and how well it’s worked with Coors Light. We want takeovers to be more and more entrenched. Whether it’s a Crypto seminar with Duncan Robinson or Richard Jefferson or Wendy’s breakfast. There are many more brands that could leverage the reach of our studio and our podcasts together. »
Blue Wire is an interesting company because in addition to national podcasts like Long’s, they have a lot of focus on the specific team. They currently offer 250 podcasts, many of which focus on a particular sports team (some even in partnership with local newspapers). And they have even gone beyond the purely sporting domain, with 15 current humorous and cultural podcastsincluding those on go out together, relationships, Dungeons and Dragons, chess, sports moviesand the worst aspects of sport/pop culture/historical events, as well as business and fitness podcasts. Jones said the scope is very useful for them, allowing brands that work with them to more specifically target fans of particular teams or podcasts.
“If you think of most of our competitors, they’re all national talking heads. Bill Simmons, Colin Cowherd, Dan Le Batard – they probably talk about your favorite team or topic once every few weeks for a few minutes at a time. And even though they all have podcast networks, almost all of their audience comes from a single show. We say sports fans are a little sick of the same talking heads and we’ve got some of the best one-on-one shows on any subject. Brands choose us because they understand the dynamics of the new sports fan.
Jones said Blue Wire’s revenue grew from $1 million in 2020 to $4.9 million last year, and they forecast revenue of $10 million (as well as 140 million cumulative downloads) this year, which he thinks is particularly impressive with them handling in-house ad sales instead of working with an outside company. And he’s optimistic about Blue Wire’s future.
“We are one of the only media organizations in the world that believes creators will own their IP in the future. Most media organizations try to own all IP. This dynamic is an early advantage that we are arrived and it allows us to build trust and grow year over year with some really great podcasters. Our plan is to continue to give creators really fair deals. 15% of our content is now sports-adjacent. We’ve got Dungeons & Dragons, we’ve got Chess, we’ve got business, we’ve got fitness. Blue Wire will always be sports-focused, but it’s becoming the home base for niche podcasters overall.
[Image supplied by Blue Wire]